Absolute Quality systems
Absolute Quality systems: automated control of filtration processes
A.V.Tarasov, Cand.Sc.(Chem), Director of Technofilter Ltd
S.E.Krygin, Chief Engineer
For quite a long time it is not a secret to producers of wines and vodkas that filtration is one of the main processes that determine the quality of the final product. Key characteristics of beverages, such as colloidal stability, optical transparency and standard brilliance, cannot be achieved without using microfiltration technology in the process chain. Making the filtration process most convenient, visual and reliable for the process engineer and cost effective for the whole enterprise was the main purpose of specialists of Research-and-Manufacturing Enterprise Technofilter Ltd as they were designing and developing Absolute-quality automatic systems of pre-filling polishing filtration.
After having analyzed advantages and disadvantages of automatically controlled filtration systems available in the Russian market, we have developed our own automatically controlled filtration system Absolute quality that provides optimum conditions for operation of both depth and membrane filter elements.
Easy and simple maintenance
An important advantage of our system is the human-computer interface, the operator's touchpad. The touchpad makes it possible to control the filtration process in the real-time mode. The initial page contains the following parameters: filtration rate (m3/h), degree of filter fouling at each filtration stage (%), indications of digital pressure gauges (bar) and total throughput of filter elements (l). The automatic equipment significantly simplifies maintenance of the filtration system. The system is activated by pushing the start-up button at the beginning of operation and turn off by pushing the stop button after completion of filling.
The throughput of filter elements is used completely
Filter elements produced by Technofilter Ltd, like those of most other producers, are operated until differential pressure of 3 to 3.5 atm is achieved. However, most two-stage filtration systems made in Russia are provided with low-power electric pumps producing pressures of up to 2 atm. Taking into consideration the fact that such systems require constant surplus output pressures of about 0.5 atm are required and the pressure losses taking place in the two successive stages, only 30 to 50% of filter elements' throughput is typically used.
Absolute-quality systems are provided with a more powerful pump producing 6 atm, the optimum pressure for two-stage filtration. However, exceeding the admissible differential pressure can result in destruction of filter elements, which is why the system is provided with a microcontroller and pressure sensors at the inputs and outputs of each stage. The microcontroller is monitoring differential pressures across filter elements of each stage. If differential pressure in one of the two stages is coming close to the maximum admissible value, the system is reporting on the need to replace the filter elements and can ultimately turn off. As a result, all filter elements are used to the end of their throughputs, and the automatic system guarantees their integrity. The touchpad indicates which elements have exhausted their service potential and require replacement or reconditioning. Monitoring of the overall potential throughput of a stage in litres makes it possible for the production manager to select a set of filter elements that is optimal in terms of throughput versus price, while having an appropriate quality.
It should be pointed out that in the course of filtration the production rate and power consumption of the system are changing in strict dependence on the requirement of the filling line. The pump automatically increases the rate of rotation after the valve of the filling line has been opened. As long as the valve is closed, the system remains in the standby mode, consuming virtually no electric power.
The system automatically adapts to the filling line
Absolute-quality systems use software extending their functional capabilities. A new algorithm incorporating elements of intelligent management is Technofilter's know-how enabling automatic adjustment of the system to the filling line. By processing indications of the sensors, the control system independently selects the pressure at the output of the system, the rotation frequency of the pump's motor, differential pressures across the filters and the pressure actuating the hydraulic impact protection device. The high rate of the system's response to the rising pressure makes our systems suitable for installation in filling lines having mechanical, pneumatic and electromechanical valves and guarantees safety and long service life of the filter elements.
Total absence of hydraulic impacts
It is well known that the shutdown of a valve in the filling line produces abrupt pressure surges (hydraulic impacts) that can destroy expensive membrane filter elements or, in the case of depth elements, result in the unloading of accumulated contaminants into the filtrate. Absolute-quality systems have a three-level protection against hydraulic impacts. Our systems not only enable smooth start-ups and shutdowns of the electric pump, but also completely rule out hydraulic impacts, including the cases where the differential pressure across filter elements is close to maximum admissible values.
Reliability is the guarantee of quality
Our filtration systems are produced on the basis of high quality proven components made abroad and in Russia. The control circuit is assembled on the basis of Siemens microcontroller and touchpad. Danfoss pressure sensors and Grundfos pumps are used in the systems.
Extra functional capabilities
The practice of operating filtration systems shows that they should be periodically rinsed. Rinsing is carried out to prevent possible contamination of the filling line with micronap. An important feature of our filtration system is a bypass line connecting the output of the system with the input of the pump. Automatic rinsing in the closed loop saves much time during start-up operations and preparation of the filtration system for operation after replacement of filters.
? The filtration system has a dry mode sensor for protection of the pump.
? The microcontroller performs autodiagnostics of malfunctions.
? A demo clip on the touchpad makes it easier for the user to understand the operation algorithm.
The standard system is based on the two-stage filtration format. Depth filter elements of the first stage remove the bulk of dirt contaminants, whereas filter elements of the second stage ensure the required quality of filtration. The systems are designed for use in combination with filling lines having flow rates of 0.5 to 12 m3/h.
In addition to the standard two-stage design, the filtration system can be quickly customized in accordance with requirements of a specific user (three- or four-stage designs). An example of such customization is the automatically controlled four-stage system for the filtration of vodka, that was successfully put into operation at Distar distillery Ltd (Nalchik). In addition to the unit of polishing filters, the system incorporates the unique Silver filtration technology patented by Technofilter Ltd that is used to improve organoleptic properties. According to Distar's director I.V.Pogrebnyak (monthly advertizing/informational journal "Alcoholic beverages and beer", No 19, 2005, pp.74 to 78), the system significantly improved organoleptic properties of vodkas produced by Distar, and final polishing filtration made it possible to produce beverages with standard brilliance.
On the basis of the automatically controlled polishing filtration system, a system for the filtration of wine was developed, that is provided with an extra rinsing unit for conditioning of filter elements with washing solutions and water. The system is also provided with an air filter for displacement of the liquid being filtered from filter holders. The rinsing unit enables the user to recondition filter elements without removing them from filter holders. By using compressed air, the time for replacement of filter elements is significantly reduced. Such system is successfully operated at Vintrest-7 Ltd (Vladikavkaz).
The types of filter elements are selected depending on the purpose of filtration and requirements to the quality of the filtrate. An extensive range of membrane, depth and sorptive cartridge filter elements enables us to tackle virtually all applications in the field of microfiltration of liquids and gases. We will report on our new developments and technologies used in specific processes of beverage filtration in more detail next time.
At present, Absolute-quality systems are successfully used at 10 distilleries and wineries in Russia and CIS countries. These include Vladalko distillery JSC (Vladimir), Baikalfarm JSC (Ulan-Ude), Vesna distillery Ltd (Tula), Zadoukovsk distillery JSC (Tyumen Region), Knyazhiy Grad limited liability company (Kiev, Ukraine) and others.
Absolute-quality automatically controlled polishing filtration systems were developed with maximum consideration for customers' wishes and requirements. When operating the system, the user can be fully confident of the quality of the final product!
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